There is all the difference between a very large knowledge ABOUT Christ, and the smallest measure of the knowledge OF Christ. One may be immense in its range; the other may be very small in its measure. And yet the small thing may count for infinitely more than the immensity of the other.
The knowledge of Christ in a spiritual way is basic to everything in our lives as the Lord’s children. As we go on, and the Holy Spirit begins to unveil Christ in our hearts, then we know how true this is. We know that it is that which gives reality to the spiritual life, makes it a very real thing. It is that which establishes us, so that, while the adversities might turn us away from a creed, a doctrine, an accepted position, a profession of relationship, nothing can turn us away from a spiritual knowledge. Spiritual knowledge is a part of our being, and we can never separate ourselves from that. That is reality! Nothing less than that could have accounted for Paul going through to the end, when he saw his life’s work going to pieces about him. The very assemblies for which he had, so to speak, poured out his lifeblood, forsook him at last when all they in Asia turned away from him. There is nothing to account for his remaining, not only loyal to the Lord, but triumphant to the last, save the fact that he knew the Lord in a spiritual way. Reality is found there. And every other virtue and value lies in the same direction. It is what Christ is, being progressively disclosed to our hearts.
The day will come when most of us will be tested on this very thing, and under given tests the one thing that will become clear will be that a very great deal of our knowledge of the Lord was not knowledge after the Spirit, but knowledge which we had obtained by reason perhaps of having been born and brought up in Christian families, instructed from infancy; knowledge which we had obtained by reading good books, devotional literature; knowledge perhaps by all the ‘providences’, as we call them. They carried us through to a right place – the providences of birth and upbringing and association. And yet, unless they go further than that, the time will come when it will be proved that they lack the essential element in our relationship to the Lord. And from time to time the Lord does allow His winds of adversity to blow, He does take His winnowing fan and throw everything up into the air, and cause the wind to pass through, just to find how much there is of solid grain that will fall and remain uninfluenced by the wind, and just how much of the chaff will be carried away.